Why Azimio beat retreat on parallel Jamhuri Day meeting

Written by on 9 December 2022

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition yesterday cancelled a planned parallel Jamhuri Day celebrations because its leader Raila Odinga will be away in the United States.

Sources within the coalition revealed that Raila had been invited to attend a development partners meeting in his capacity as the African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa.

Following the invitation, the former Prime Minister, it is understood, will leave the country on Sunday and return on Tuesday, a day after Jamhuri Day.

“We will not have the rally because our leader will not be present. We were waiting for confirmation and now that it is here, we can’t continue. Mzee (Raila) is expected to jet out of the country on Sunday for that function, because he has a role to play and we can’t continue without him,” said an insider aware of the planned US tour.

The move came hours after leader of the Minority in the National Assembly Opiyo Wandayi announced that the coalition had cancelled the parallel celebrations which were to be held at the Jacaranda Grounds in Embakasi East constituency.

Accompanied by MPs Naisula Lesuuda (Samburu West), Mark Mwenje (Embakasi West), Irene Kasalu (Kitui Woman Rep) and George Aladwa (Makadara), Wandayi said the cancellation had been occasioned by upcoming engagements that will keep the party’s leaders away before and after the celebrations.

High costs

Wandayi said the engagements had not been confirmed when the coalition initially scheduled the parallel event.

“We wish to announce that Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party will not hold a parallel Jamhuri Day celebrations on 12th December 2022 as earlier planned,” said Wandayi.

He said that despite the cancelation of the event, Azimio will continue to “stand together and fight together until the Ruto administration addresses the  high costs of food, fuel, school fees, electricity, transport and the need to immediately restore and enhance cash transfer to the elderly and the Linda Mama programme that covered maternal issues for economically disadvantaged mothers.”

“As we announced yesterday, we reaffirm that even with the cancellation of parallel celebrations on (December) 12th , the People’s Dialogues shall continue in one way or another, in public and in private, in the coming days, weeks and months in different parts of the country,” he said.

No agenda

He added: “As things stand, the basic necessities mentioned above rank as more urgent. We encourage Kenyans to demand these fundamentals even at the Nyayo celebrations and everywhere else.”

But Kenya Kwanza claimed the decision to call off the rally was because they had no agenda for Kenyans.

Addressing a news conference yesterday, six MPs said Azimio la Umoja only wants to take advantage of the people’s vulnerability.

Led by Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei and Mathira MP Eric Wamumbi, the lawmakers, however, welcomed Azimio’s decision to call off the parallel celebrations.

“We have heard that the Azimio la Umoja side have cancelled their rally. They are now reasoning. It would have been unpatriotic of them to proceed with the rally. It would have been bad manners and an insult to our founding fathers whom we will be celebrating on Monday,” said Cheraragei.

Wamumbi said Azimio cancelled their rally because “the rally they had yesterday bore no fruits as it was full of threats”.

“Their demands are always useless and not pro-people,” he said.

On Wednesday, Raila led the Azimo la Umoja leaders and supporters at a rally at the Kamukunji grounds where they made a number of demands including reinstatement of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) bosses who have resigned to avoid facing a tribunal formed to investigate them.

Addressing a press conference in Nairobi on Monday, Azimio leaders led by Raila and Martha Karua said the “public consultations with patriots” will be held at Jacaranda Gardens in Nairobi.

“On the 12th of December, we are going to Jacaranda Gardens in Embakasi, not Kamukunji. We will be celebrating Jamhuri Day with Kenyan patriots and it is also going to be a very peaceful congregation. No protests, no picketing, although that is also guaranteed by the Constitution of Kenya,” Raila said.

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